Female football player Maile Gurule tackles stereotypes

Written by Haley Wyatt, Features Editor

It is obvious that gender plays no role in the making of a great athlete. Studying, band rehearsals, JROTC and . . . football practice. A common day like this might seem familiar for many of Lockport’s students, but for the hundreds of female students that rush our halls, it may definitely seem like a foreign routine they could never imagine.

But not for LTHS sophomore Maile Gurule. On top of lacrosse, band, JROTC, and plans to get her piloting license next summer, Maile currently plays as a wide receiver on LTHS’s sophomore football team, defying the stereotype that the game of football is just for male athletes.

“I got involved with football by watching the sport with my dad. He used to throw the ball around with me,” says Maile.

Maile states her main inspiration for joining football arose from seeing female players on other high school teams kick field goals for predominantly male teams.  

“I wanted to do that, even though I don’t kick this year. I also really wanted to catch the football and score, so I am playing wide receiver (this season).”

As wide-receiver Coach Kevin Bolling explains that Maile is a wonderful teammate and works hard for the team each practice and game. “She does everything expected of any player. We do drills, she gets in line, and takes her reps. When we focus on the passing game or team offense, she rotates in,” says Coach Bolling. “Football is a physical sport, but Maile does not complain about the contact. The other players see her as any other teammate.”

Maile competes against her peers who are typically bigger, stronger, and faster. She gets knocked down, and always gets back up,” proclaims Sophomore Football Coach Jason Frieri. “I have a ton of respect for her and the way that she carries herself.”

As for Maile’s wide-receiver career, Coach Bolling gives an acknowledgement to all of the hard work she has put in through the season. “She was in on many snaps in our last game against Wheaton-Warrenville South. Over the summer, she made a big third-down catch on a curl route in one of our seven-on-seven passing tournament game. The key to Maile’s involvement in football is that she is at every practice, does what the coaches ask of her, works hard, and never complains.”

Though she only began playing football her freshman year, Maile says there were no complications for getting on the team at all. She plans to keep up with football throughout the rest of high school, and the heavy support for Maile within the team is undeniable.

“I didn’t feel any different playing football alongside (Maile) because she is my teammate,” says fellow sophomore teammate Jonathan Walczak. “We are a big family in football… she is like a sister to us.”

Similarly, teammate Connor Hearne adds, “She is just like anyone else on the team. I view her just as another teammate, rather than just a ‘girl on the team.’ ”

“Honestly, I think the team and coaches treat Maile the same as they would any other player,” says Coach Frieri. “I can only imagine how hard it is for her as the only female in our program, but she never complains.”

Maile says the team and coaches were surprised to see a girl trying out at first, but with time, they got used to her playing.

“They were, and still are, very supportive,” says Maile.

Both coaches show amazing support for Maile. For any girls wanting to pursue similar goals as Maile, Coach Frieri gave one major message of support. “For females who are interested in participating in similar arenas, I would suggest they do what makes them happy. I hope others can look to Maile as a role model and source of strength to chase their dreams.”

And that is exactly what Maile presents: an inspiration to any girls who want to step outside the norm. In the words of Coach Bolling, “Maile has qualities that coaches want to see in all of their athletes.”

In the words of Maile, “Everyone has their own opinion and the right to that, but like the saying goes: a girl can do anything a guy can do.